After a brief hiatus from music, Chris Kelsey (1961, Bangor, ME) returned, power and talent fully intact. In April 2004 he reunited with his partner from the 1990s, Steve Swell, for the dynamic Renewal recording (CIMP 309). This was followed by a well thought out solo set (CJR 1183) of mostly standards. And now Chris returns to document the core trio: Jay Rosen (1961, Philadelphia, PA) and Francois Grillot (1955, Burgundy, France).
Chris is a reasonably complex individual but his music can be summed up in one word: intense. He can play pretty. He can play dissonant or loud or soft. But he is always intense. Add to that his abilities as a composer together with the distinct sound/color of his playing and you have an original. I don't find listening to Chris so much a relaxing experience as I do a deeply emotionally rewarding one—for the effort. Yet in contrast, producing Chris over the past 10 years has always been a rather relaxed effort for he is prepared, focused, and packs the talent to produce music worth your effort.
I think the genesis for this date started about an hour after Chris' previous recording when both producer and artist were enthused; Chris most likely wanting to have more of his work documented and I wanting to take advantage of the period of creative energy of the moment. We discussed variousideas, but eventually decided to go with just the basic trio.
Chris worked on the music, rehearsed, and prepared pre-recording gigs. He and Francois arrived mid afternoon on an overcast and brisk spring day, joining Jay, who had been here three days prior working on his own project (CIMP 327).
Rest, a sound check, and another spirited supper (complete with a birthday pie to celebrate Francois' 50th birthday) preceded the 9 p.m. start of the first set. They opened with Jam Session which very quickly hit its stride and wonderfully demonstrated the characteristics and strength of Chris' musicianship and the fellowship of the group. Aside from the music, little was remarkable about this session relative to every other session Chris has led for CIMP: he comes, he plays, he conquers. Very businesslike. Very professional. Business as unusual because talents such as these are not the norm and usually do not get to play/record unfettered in a cloistered situation that is still essentially aimed at commercial distribution. Yet, there are no compromises in this chambered setting. The world rages on outside, but within this setting there was nothing more serious to these three artists than working in concert, putting together and displaying their sounds and thoughts through the music.
There's no quarter here for foolishness, no governor, no consideration of anything less than 100% of their artistic abilities. It is unquestioned excellence. The only variable is the response by thereceiver of these efforts. Does it speak to you? Connect? Move you? Do you connect to it on its terms? Excellence to be embraced or rejected, but, either way—excellence. The pleasures are mine ... and yours?
Robert D. Rusch - March 24, 2005
Chris Kelsey can also be heard on CIMPs 108, 123, 139, 309.
Jay Rosen can also be heard on CIMPs 106, 110, 119, 122, 126, 134, 136, 137, 149, 155, 162, 163, 164, 165, 173, 176, 178, 183, 186, 193, 196, 211, 216, 232, 241, 244, 253, 269, 270, 283, 286, 301, 304, 307, 309, 311, 319, 320, 323, 327, 328.
François Grillot can also be heard on CIMPs 266, 292, 309.